The 2015 platformer Ori and the Blind Forest was an incredible hit, dazzling the gaming community with superb art direction, gorgeous music, and excellent gameplay. As I played through Wenjia, a new platformer for Xbox One, it became clear to me that it was heavily inspired by Ori. Unfortunately, while it achieves similar quality in graphics, it lacks just about everything else. As a result, Wenjia feels underwhelming and overpriced.
Swap between realities
In Wenjia, you play as a kitten that has to reach and rescue spirits from volcanic eruption following a massive earthquake. In order to traverse the vegetation-ridden landscape of the forest, you need to make use of basic jumping mechanics as well as the unique ability to change between a "light" and "dark" reality. These different dimensions are mostly the same, but there are key differences depending on which level you're on. For example, where a ledge might be covered in spikes in the light reality, there will be a log that you can jump on instead in the dark one.
This is just one example; throughout the game, you'll discover how you'll need to switch between the dimensions in order to progress past each puzzle. While I love this mechanic, it was underutilized, and the game rarely ever got creative with the obstacles it was presenting me with. Wenjia is also only a few hours long, and when the credits rolled, I felt like I would have been disappointed if I'd purchased it and hadn't received a review copy. The game should cost $9.99, not $14.99.
Beautiful but buggy
In terms of graphics, Wenjia is gorgeous. Featuring colorful environments, a distinct paint-like art style, and high quality visual effects, it's the definition of "easy on the eyes." The musical score is also solid, although there isn't a wide enough variety of soundtracks. Several of the levels use the same music, and it can be a bit annoying to hear the same song five or six times.
When it comes to performance, Wenjia is a mixed bag. The title mostly runs fine on Xbox One, although there are instances where the framerate will dip or the screen will momentarily freeze. This can end up getting you killed if it happens during a crucial jump or while you're trying to time a dimension switch, but it's a rare occurrence. More problematic is the way that the levels can sometimes glitch out, which allows you to safely traverse terrain that is intended to kill you if you touch it (as seen in the image above). This takes all the challenge out of said level, which in turn takes the fun of beating it out completely.
Should you buy Wenjia?
Ultimately, I think it would be best to pass on Wenjia. While the visuals are great, it's too short and there's too little depth in the gameplay to justify the price. When you consider that the game's levels also break and that there are some performance problems as well, you would be better off spending the extra $4.99 to get Ori and the Blind Forest.
- Gorgeous visuals.
- Solid mechanical foundation.
- Music itself is good.
- Average gameplay.
- Glitchy levels.
- Not enough music variety.
Wenjia is available on Xbox One for $14.99.
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